Clarence was what might be called “orderly”. He would rise at 7 minutes past 6, feed the cat, prepare the evening meal, shower, get dressed for the daily drudgery, have breakfast, and then drive the 1 hour 10 minutes in his car to work. He always followed the same pattern.
Tomorrow morning was going to be different. His car had a flat battery. For once he would have to take the bus to work. He thought he had better start earlier because the bus took longer than the car.
A curse on the breaking of a regular schedule! He boarded the bus and the 90 minute trip began. Then Clarence remembered something. He hadn’t had a pee.
Gunson wasn’t keen to go to the annual parish dance. They’re all into religion, said Gunson. Going to church was the last thing on his mind when he went to a dance.
You’re all of nineteen, said his mother, and it’s work, work, work. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
So Gunson grudgingly put on his best semi-casual attire and went to the dance. He walked into the church hall and there was Cressida! Cressida! He’d never laid eyes on her before. She was radiant. She was the best thing since sliced bread. He asked her for a dance, and they danced all evening.
How was it? asked his mother the next morning.
It was alright, mumbled Gunson.
A few weeks later, Gunson’s mother was puzzled.
I can’t understand why you’ve started going to church on Sundays, she said.
Maxwell was in raptures! He’d recently arrived in the village for his new work appointment. He was to live there. He couldn’t believe his luck! He couldn’t believe what he saw!
There were crowds of young people; vibrant, cheerful, fully alive. He never saw one sick person. Perhaps it was the mountain air, perhaps it was something in the water. Everyone was fit and healthy. Everyone was so energetic and creative!
What an animated, pulsating community he’d been sent to! His new job was going to be a breeze: overseeing the implementation of the new government regulation to euthanize old and sick and mad people who couldn’t pay their own way.
(Note: this little piece of fiction was inspired by an article I read HERE).
Well sometimes, you know, it’s very hard to know what to do – what the right thing is to do. Marjory has bad breath. Everyone in the office knows that Marjory has bad breath but no one wants to tell her.
So I took the bull by the horns and told her. “Marjory,” I said, “do you realize that you have bad breath?” And she said, “Oh, it’s garlic.” And I said, “Well it can’t be garlic. You always have bad breath, and you wouldn’t have bad breath all the time unless you ate garlic all the time.”
So she rushed off to the ladies’ room and said she never wants to speak to me again and that’s where she is now. And quite frankly I don’t know what to do because it’s nearly time to go home and I always get a ride home in Marjory’s car. So if she’s going to pout I’ll just have to take the bus.
I mean someone had to tell her.
Here she comes now. Stinky breath. Stinky breath. Hey-ho. Stinky breath.
Oooooh! You won’t have heard her, but she just walked straight past me and said “Fat bitch” right in my face and breathed on me.
Twice in the past year there had been an office party to celebrate excellent business successes. Twice the big head sherang* had driven all the way from New York for the occasion. Twice Ivor had enjoyed the celebration drinks, and twice he had embarrassed himself by drinking too much whiskey. It wasn’t that he was a drunk; it’s simply that he enjoyed the occasion, for he was responsible by and large for the business successes they were celebrating.
But embarrassing! My goodness! If they ever had another celebration he would stick to lemonade.
And now the big boss from New York had phoned to make an appointment. Would Ivor mind driving to New York as there was a relatively serious matter that needed to be discussed. It was a personal matter. Ivor knew it was about his drinking. He just did.
All the way to New York in the car Ivor practised what he’d say. Yes, he could not deny it. Yes, he had imbibed too heartedly. Yes, it was his fault. Yes, it wouldn’t happen again. Yes, he was prepared to get help if needed, although he didn’t regard himself as an alcoholic as such. No, he didn’t believe he was in denial. Yes, sir, I agree with whatever you say.
The time had come for the interview. Ivor’s hands were sweaty. He’d forgotten everything he’d rehearsed in the car.
They were opening new offices in Baltimore, said the boss. Would he be interested in being in charge? It would mean uprooting to another city. It would mean a $70,000 annual pay increase.
Ivor went weak in the knees. Yes, he said. Yes, sir. Whatever you say.
Great, said the head sherang* reaching below his desk and pulling out a bottle of whiskey. Shall we celebrate?
* Since writing this I’ve learnt that the phrase “head sherang” is not well-known outside New Zealand and Australia. It simply means boss – the one way at the top. One probably wouldn’t usually refer to the manager of a local K-Mart store as the “head sherang”; K-Mart’s head sherang would be the person overall in charge of the entire chain.
Susan was a solo mother of three. The kids’ father had upped and run off with some Caribbean floozy he’d met by way of work. They’d taken off without a trace, and Susan was left practically penniless. Looking after the three kids was, of course, her number one priority.
She found three cleaning jobs, which she could do one after the other on an almost daily basis. All the tasks were cleaning kitchenettes in three different government buildings. The pay was atrocious, but it was something to go on. It also meant she could be home by the time the children came from school.
Quite frankly, Susan worked her butt off. She would prepare some nibbles as well when on a special occasion the government department had a celebration with a few drinks. That brought in a few extra cents. She did that for about three years. Not a holiday in sight. Not a day’s break. But she managed to almost get on top. She could pay the rent and the groceries and the kids’ school expenses and their clothes albeit second hand. Nearly there! Nearly there! Thank goodness!
And then the government, to save on expenses, hired a huge professional cleaning company to do the work. It was good economics. Everyday citizens need a champion and the government wanted to be that champion. Cutting costs was one way of doing it.
Susan was left practically penniless. Looking after the three kids was, of course, her number one priority.